By Hilary White

SOUTHAMPTON, UK, April 15, 2009 ( – A charity in the UK has suspended a Christian employee for answering questions about his faith in a “calm and friendly” conversation with a colleague. David Booker, a hostel support worker at a homeless shelter in Southampton, fears being fired under the charity’s Culture and Diversity Code of Conduct rules, after he explained the Christian teaching on marriage and homosexuality to a female co-worker.

According to a report by the Christian Legal Centre the public advocacy group handling the case, Mr. Booker described the conversation as “free-flowing,” saying he was answering questions about the Christian teaching on homosexuality and same-sex “marriage.” Mr. Booker explained that he had homosexual friends and was not “homophobic.”

The next day, he was summoned by his employers and told that he was suspended for “events that happened last night.”

Mr. Booker was employed by the English Churches Housing Group (ECHG) in 2006, whose Patron is the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury. Last year the charity was taken over by the Society of St James, which adopted the same terms of service and codes of conduct established by the ECHG. On March 30th, Mr. Booker received a formal suspension notice that said he had “seriously breached ECHG’s code of conduct by promoting your religious views which contained discriminatory comments regarding a person’s sexual orientation.”

The letter added that the action was taken to “safeguard both residents and staff” at the Southampton Street hostel.

According to the Christian Legal Centre, the Society of St James, an organisation that provides low-cost housing to families, receives significant funding from churches throughout Hampshire. Andrea Minichiello Williams, barrister and director of the Christian Legal Centre said that these churches would be “shocked at the attitude and action taken by a Christian and charitable organisation towards a Christian employee.” 

Mr. Booker said, “The conversation moved on to my views on homosexuality. I am not a bigot. I am not homophobic. I have gay friends.

“But I did say that I didn’t agree with same-sex marriages, I didn’t believe pastors or vicars should marry same-sex partners and I didn’t agree with practising homosexuals being a pastor or a vicar.

“At one point, as we were talking, I asked her if I was offending her or boring her and she replied: ‘No, Dave, carry on.’ After our discussion, she was friendly towards me. She made me cups of tea. There was no problem at all.”

Andrea Minichiello Williams said, “This case shows that in today’s politically correct, increasingly secularized society, even consenting reasonable discussion on religion between two employees is being twisted by employers to discriminate and silence the Christian voice and freedom of expression.”

Mr. Booker’s situation is only one in a series of recent incidents in which Christian employees in the UK are being suspended or threatened with the sack for expressing their religious beliefs at work.

In a case being handled by the Christian Institute’s legal defence fund, a Christian foster care giver, who cannot be named publicly, was removed from the fostering register by the local council after a Muslim teenager in her care decided to become a Christian.

In early February this year, council officials said the girl’s care giver had failed in her duty to preserve the girl’s religion, even though the girl, who was in her late teens, had expressed an interest in exploring Christianity before she entered foster care.

Although the teen, who also has not been named, was baptised, the council ordered her to stay away from church for six months. In assessments before the baptism, the authorities said the girl’s emotional needs were being met, and noted that the carer was showing understanding and respect for her culture.

In another case being handled by the Christian Institute, a young mother, Mrs. Jennie Cain, faces possible firing after her five year-old daughter Jasmine had been reprimanded in class by her teacher for talking about Jesus. The girl was reduced to tears and her mother, a part-time receptionist at the school, had emailed friends from church asking for prayers for her daughter.

The school’s headmaster, Gary Read, told Mrs. Cain in January that she was being investigated by school governors for misconduct after he received a copy of her private email. Mrs Cain said, “I felt embarrassed that a private prayer email was read by the school – it felt like someone had gone through my personal prayer diary.”

“I feel my beliefs are so central to who I am, are such a part of my children’s life. I do feel our beliefs haven’t been respected and I don’t feel I have been treated fairly. I don’t know what I am supposed to have done wrong.”

In another case being handled by the Christian Legal Centre, a charity worker was told by employees, “Say ‘God Bless’ and we’ll sack you”. Duke Amachree, aged 53, is a homelessness prevention officer with Wandsworth council who was suspended from work for nearly two months for encouraging a homeless woman to look to God for help. The woman suffers from an incurable medical condition and doctors had told her they’d given up hope. Amachree, who has worked for the Wandsorth authority for almost 18 years, was suspended after the woman complained. 

Ed West, writing on his Daily Telegraph weblog “Culture Wars”, said that the culture of “diversity” is turning Britain into the new East Germany, in which the British people are being turned “into a nation of sneaks and Judases”.

“Every month there is some new story about a Baptist nurse or Evangelical preacher who gets in trouble for mentioning the G-word, and each time it’s because some weasel has informed on them.

“Isn’t it strange that the people who always bang on about ‘diversity’ can’t stand the most important diversity of all – diversity of opinion.”

West concluded, “Historians often debate whether had we lost in 1940, Britons would have acted like the Germans under the Nazis. Well, I know we would have no trouble behaving like the East Germans under the Communists, informing on our colleagues for holding views contrary to the state’s official opinion. We’re already a nation of sneaks ruled by a passive-aggressive diversity Stasi.”